The US on Saturday beat Paraguay 1-0 and advanced to the quarter-finals of the Copa America Centenario as Group A winners after Costa Rica stunned Colombia, who have already qualified, 3-2.
The US, who are hosting the tournament in its 100th anniversary, are to play the second-placed team from Group B — Brazil, Peru or Ecuador — with Colombia to play the top side.
US forward Clint Dempsey scored for the second straight game, getting his 51st international goal in the 27th minute to move six behind Landon Donovan’s US scoring record.
Gyasi Zardes received a pass from Michael Bradley, ran along the left flank and slowed. Marked by Paulo da Silva, who made his record 137th appearance for Paraguay, and Victor Ayala, Zardes spurted to the endline and crossed. Dempsey sprinted into the penalty area as the trailing runner and one-timed a left-footed shot past the leg of sliding defender Fabian Balbuena and under the left arm of diving goalkeeper Justo Villar.
The US were reduced to 10 men shortly after halftime when rightback DeAndre Yedlin received two yellow cards within a minute for aggressive tackles.
“The boys showed a lot of heart, especially after that red card,” Dempsey said. “Man, we showed a lot of character and we’re proud to advance to the next round.”
The US looked set to fall behind in the 11th minute when Paraguay had a three-on-one break, but defender John Brooks chased down Miguel Almiron to deliver a terrific sliding challenge and knock the ball out of play.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who made key saves from Jorge Benitez and Almiron in the 82nd minute, paid tribute to his players on defense.
“The guys in front of me were fantastic,” Guzan said. “Every now and then it’s up to the goalkeeper to come up with the save and I was lucky enough to do that tonight.”
In the later Group A game, Costa Rica’s Johan Venegas scored in the second minute before Frank Fabra pulled Colombia level.
Fabra turned villain in the 34th minute by scoring an own-goal, while Celso Borges put Costa Rica 3-1 up just before the hour mark.
Colombia’s Marlos Moreno made it 3-2 with 17 minutes remaining, but they could not find an equalizer.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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